I have lived all over the country in big cities, NYC as well as smaller cities, Columbus, OH & Nashville, TN and I have to say that the comments about Wilmington being boring and the shopping being less than wonderful is far from the truth. The city is bordered on four sides by Market St., College Rd., Shipyard Blvd. & Carolina Beach Rd. Both Market St & College Rd. have every store you can possibly think of and it is all in a five mile radius.
Parks are beautiful, especially Greenfield Lake, which is a five mile around lake with beautiful foilage, wonderful birds as well as alligators (that can be viewed both with the naked eye or binoculars (for those faint of heart).
The beaches, both Wrightsville and Carolina Beach are probably 20 minutes away (at most) from anywhere in Wilmington.
The people, for the most part are very friendly & diversified, simply because most are transplants like myself from the north. If you don't come down here with a chip on your shoulder and realize that you are moving from a big city for the slower place and southern charm that Wilmington has to offer, than there is no reason why you wouldn't love it.
Housing, there is plenty and in this economy you can find either a nice house or apartment for such a reasonable price, it is really hard to imagine not moving here and then staying.
Before here, I live in Jacksonville, FL and I loved it very much. The beaches, the people, everything, but then it became too crowded and the prices went through the roof, which happens in great places. We don't have a big zoo, but we do have a family friendly zoo.
Come and visit and see for yourself. You will be pleasantly surprised, as I was.